Friday, February 29, 2008

Bats, Bees and Bananas

Bats are dying by the thousands from a highly contagious disease called ‘White-nose Syndrome’. The hibernating bats are struck with the illness which causes them to loose body fat and die…while hibernating. We are talking thousands of bats per; over ten thousand at a time! 10,000 animals littering the floor… Highest hit are the Little Brown Bats, but several species are affected.

No big deal, you think? Who cares for flying rats anyway, you say? Consider that individual bats are responsible for consuming as many as 1,200 insects per hour or about a third of their body weight each evening. Now we’re talking as many as 7,000 bugs per evening per bat! Bats consuming many insects that might harm our crops and keeping a handle on the spread of diseases from mosquitoes.

More than one resource suggests a connection between the fungus and Fusarium…an agent used to kill unwanted crops. (See: ).

Let’s consider the bees for a bit. ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’ is what is causing thousands of bees to suddenly leave their hives and die. Beekeepers became alarmed over a year ago, when they suddenly had to purchase bees to fulfill contracts to the farmers they serve. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars here, and millions of bees.

The bees are stressed; it’s a big job servicing the thousands of acres of a single crop at each mega-farmer’s business. The bees are trucked; hive and all, across miles of highway to help pollinate crops that otherwise would be too much for local wildlife to cope with. We’re not just talking less honey, here; a full 80% of our food depends on these commercial honeybees!

Stress, lack of a decent and varied diet, mites and other parasites all play a part…but so do pesticides and herbicides… and perhaps Agent Green, as well? I wonder… The new ‘safe for your pets to walk on immediately after application-’ type of pesticides made from ‘natural’ tobacco is plenty toxic enough to kill insects. According to makers of the chemical, it works by breaking down the immune system of pests; causes memory loss and nervous system disorder and makes the insect stop feeding. This is exactly what they are seeing in the bees. (

And now bananans…had you heard our favorite fruit might be extinct in 10-30 years? Yes, because we eat primarily only the Cavendish Banana, which is suffering due to the spread of what is called the Panama Fungus…the whole banana-market is at risk of collapse. Panama Fungus or a disease called black Sigatoka are attacking the plants and causing them to die off. The bananas we currently favor have lost the ability to make seeds…so the huge die-off is a big deal. Spraying for the diseases are causing higher than normal incidents of leukemia and sterility in growers. Go figure.

Oddly, some third-world farmers are saying the problem with their crops is the poison the US sprays in a futile war to rid the world of coca… a poison that affects the very earth they plant their crops in and which affects the crops just as it affects the coca…with a kind of wilt and eminent death.

Clearly I am no scientist and just as clearly one can see I am a left-wing, tree-hugging natural kinda-girl who is more than passionate about the world and how we abuse, I mean, use it. I just do not understand. It seems to me we are the only animal that fouls the bed it sleeps in!

Please think about it when you grab the can of Raid or spray your roses with anything more than a bit of soapy water. In the midst of the economic crisis we are suffering, I heard one town decided they couldn’t afford to spray for mosquitoes; and the people are up in arms over it! I think if we would each just take a little personal responsibility…the world would be a cleaner place.

I'm going to go hang my bat house...

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